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RECENTLY, the NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro, the National Party politician representing Monaro, again threw himself into the media spotlight. Two notable pronouncements in quick succession. Barilaro’s behaviour in the second case, jaw-dropping tantrums, quickly overshadowed the earlier story with wide-spread media coverage. But the first story should not be overlooked because it goes to the heart of what the Nationals are doing in NSW. As their elected leader, Barilaro again threatened the natural environment, claiming to have the interests of farmers at heart.

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Never shy of self-advertising with public dollars (see image above, part of state government advertising that runs in local community publications) Barilaro in late April repeated earlier threats to blow up the Murray Darling Basin agreement.

His idea for later in 2020 was to allocate Commonwealth-earmarked environmental water that flows through NSW in the Murray Darling system, to some agri-businesses. By the looks of this report from the Sydney Morning Herald, that would be rice-growers. Such a diversion is illegal under federal law.

The public reaction, posted as extensive commentary, was uniformly critical of the Deputy Premier’s thinking and the spin on irrigation needs, often for export crops on a dry continent. The response was so uniform that we thought to share a few sample comments that prove many in NSW are not nearly as gullible as the NSW National Party, with its hands on the levers of state land and wildlife management, and Nats leader Barilaro seem to believe. (People use pen-names for their commentary so we have left those off).

Reader reaction to Barilaro’s water proposals


… it is plain to see your time is up Mr Barilaro, there will be no more protecting the interests of big farmers and those with ambitions to be big farmers the punters are onto you. The people are starting to wake up to what has been happening and we should start to see some improvement now.


The MDBP we have now has, on current science, only 30–50% of the environmental water required. Water allocations, surface and groundwater, have been historically over allocated by authorities, often without research, science and monitoring. Drought exacerbates this issue, and climate change pushes it further. As I have written before, the only way out of this mess is strong leadership to restructure parts of irrigated agriculture and the rural economy along the eastern part of the country. This issue is no different to restructuring the coal industry, which is on the gradual way out. Question is, where will we find the leadership and $$ in this national environment?


I love the photos of Mr Barilaro that appear in the Herald. He is always trying to look macho either standing in or on water. A true National Party long-term thinker. God help us.


[Deputy] Premier John Barilaro says that farmers had been sacrificed for the environmental objectives of the “failed” Murray Darling Basin Plan. ENVIRONMENTAL OBJECTIVES should be the first and foremost objective. Barilaro look around you, have you noticed Mother Nature is trying to teach us ignorant humans a lesson? Bushfires, floods, pandemics, famines on the way in Africa … the Coronavirus has seen pollution drop around the world.


“Prolonged drought has left irrigators facing their third season without general water security access”. Well, in a drought why should production continue as per normal? When you sign up to be a farmer you don’t sign up for consistent rain and weather, surely. Why is Barilaro intent on destroying our river systems just for the sake of a few multinational big irrigators?


If you want water for farmers take it off the coal miners. Coal mining uses an unconscionable amount of water which we could use for drinking and irrigation. In the second driest continent on earth we wash coal before we export it. It defies belief.


It takes 2.5m3 (cubic metres) of water to grow 1kg of rice. Stop trying to grow rice in what is basically the desert. Either grow in high dependable rainfall areas (not many in Aus. these days) or Asia, common sense really.


While there may well be more intelligent uses of water upstream of NSW these constant calls to bugger the environment (and the entire MDB agreement) beggar belief. We sit here being clobbered by a pandemic after having the worst climate change induced drought and bushfires of all time and this bloke wants to reduce environmental allocations. Surely it is evident that if we ignore natural forces or inflict further damage on the ecosystem that we will suffer huge economic and human damage? Let’s support viable farming without destroying the MDB.


Barilaro is a dill who finds himself in a pickle.


IMAGERY: Contextual map of the Murray-Darling Basin Region. Murray Cod starved of fresh water, February 2019.

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